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Maine Name City Game

Steven Lindsay stumbles across a fascinating fact

Published on December 7th 2012.

Maine Name City Game

DID you know there’s a connection between Maine in the US and both the old Manchester City ground and their Blue Moon anthem?

Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost portion of New England in the US. It is known for its scenery - a jagged, mostly rocky coastline, low, rolling mountains, heavily forested interior and picturesque waterways - and seafood cuisine, especially lobsters and clams.

It is the name of both the Maine Law and the Maine Farmers’ Almanac. 

These separately and unintentionally link to both the old ground and recent anthem of Manchester City football club.

The Old Ground

When they moved in 1923 City called their new ground in Moss Side after the street at one corner of the ground – Maine Road.  Maine Road was originally known as Dog Kennel Lane.  It was re-named Maine Road to commemorate the Maine Law during the 1870s at the insistence of the Temperance Movement, a social movement urging reduced or prohibited use of alcohol.

This stern and sober group owned land on Dog Kennel Lane and Manchester’s City Council accepted their request to rename it after the Maine Law in the US. Maine Road, of course, was probably a better name for a football ground than Dog Kennel Lane, although the latter might have inspired some excellent chants from away supporters.  

The Maine Law was passed in 1851 in Main.  It was one of the first statutory implementations of the developing temperance movement in the United States that would ultimately lead to the disastrous prohibition laws in the States between 1920-1933. The Maine Law was the inspiration for the United Kingdom Alliance temperance organisation based in Manchester. (Although Manchester had other temperance movements that go back earlier way earlier.)

The City Anthem

 ‘Blue Moon’ was originally sung by Crewa Alexandra's fans.

City historical expert Gary James remembers the first time he heard it sung by City fans: “The first time I can ever recall it being sung was at the opening game of the 1989-90 season at Liverpool,” he said. “It had never been sung by fans during the seasons before that. At Anfield, City fans were kept behind for a while after the match and a few lads started singing it as we started to make our way out. They sang a sort of melancholic version, but it caught on.”

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Maine Farmers' Almanac listed blue moon dates for farmers. These correspond to the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons (normally a quarter year has three full moons). When a season has four moons the third is called the blue moon so that the last can continue to be called the late moon.

This description became part of the expression, ‘once in a blue moon’, which no doubt informed the lyrics of the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart tune from 1934.

1934 was the year in which Maine Road had the highest attendance of any English club ground in history, 84,569: an FA Cup tie against Stoke. Manchester City won. Hardly standing alone then. 

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AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2013.

I know Maine Road was a bit of a dump, but I do miss it. The warren of stairs, corridors and bars under the Main Stand was my favourite bit. Properly poky and atmospheric.

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